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I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Contagion (2011)

I've no idea how this would have worked as a movie in 2011 because the main interest in watching it now was almost entirely based on seeing how almost scarily accurate it was in its portrayal of a pandemic. I particularly the development of the plotline with Jude Law as the conspiracy theorist/ purveyor of the fake cure. I also liked how there were a lot of famous actors in it, but unlike the films where you know the most famous people will survive to the end, this film clinically killed them off and peeled open their skulls right from the start.






Arctic - If you've never seen Mads Mikkelsen in anything or even if you have and you want definitive proof of just how good an actor he is then you need to watch this. I've never seen Hannibal but I've heard and read the near universal acclaim he's garnered for his work in that series. And I did watch Valhalla Rising, another example of him doing some gargantuan heavy lifting acting wise with little to no dialogue.

In this film he literally and quite single-handedly carries the movie. He plays H. Overgård and in the films cold (both figurative and literal) opening he is shown working his way through what appears to be a methodical routine. He laboriously digs in frozen tundra, checks an array of fishing lines and trudges up a rise where he hand cranks what appears to be a homing transmitter of some kind. First time Brazilian director Joe Penna gradually reveals that Overgård has survived a plane crash in the frozen snowbound wilderness. The digging is his SOS banner and the fishing lines are his only source of food. It's also never clearly delineated how long he has been there but he does have a relatively safe shelter in the wreckage of his plane. This all changes one day when he spots a rescue helicopter while making his rounds in the middle of a rapidly building storm. The chopper crashes and he finds an injured young woman in the wreckage. Her copilot has died and Overgård takes her back to his makeshift home and tends to her wounds as best he can. It's only after looking through her effects and realizing the extent of her injuries that he accepts he no longer has the limited luxury of waiting for a rescue that may never come. With the help of a topographical map he salvages from the helicopter he decides to undertake the long and perilous journey with the young woman to the nearest outpost.

Mikkelsen probably doesn't utter more than a couple of dozen words over the course of the movie. His performance is accomplished solely with his marvelously expressive face. I've been a fan of his since Casino Royale, Flame and Citron and Valhalla Rising but he just blew me away in this. He is onscreen about 99% of the time with the young actress playing the pilot (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) filling in the rest and there are no dead spots. The beautiful and austere Icelandic landscapes contribute mightily as well.

Took your recommendation and watched this last night. Survival films are not at the top of my watch list, but this one was exceptionally well done. Mads Mikkelsen is the only star in the picture, since the female character (Maria Smaradottir) never utters a word, and spends most of her screen time unconscious.

We’re treated to an uncommon beginning as we realize that Mikkelsen has survived his small plane crash in the arctic, and is digging a help sign in the snowy turf. He’s faced with a dilemma; he can either stay where he is, living in the plane wreck with food and water available, or try a near impossible trek to civilization. The rescue helicopter’s crash, leaving Maria alive, eventually makes up his mind for him.

Mikkelsen provides a tour de force performance, representing a gamut of human emotions without speech. Even absent the ambient sounds this would make an excellent silent film. The movie keeps the viewer on edge with the underlying feeling that they may be doomed. It must have been a difficult production with the entire picture shot in an arctic deep freeze. The run time is perfect at 98 minutes.

I was surprised to learn that this was both the director’s (Joe Penna) and co-writer’s (Ryan Morrison) first feature film, having done only a few shorts before this. The film had the feel of a seasoned director at the helm. It’s safe to say that Penna will have gotten plenty of offers following this fine film. It’s got an 8/10 from me.



Quick Change -


Why are one crazy night movies so much fun? Is it their unpredictability? Is it because the contact high of watching one is so close to the fun of having an actual crazy night? Is it because they double as travelogues? Whatever the reasons, all those sensations - not to mention plenty of laughs - are found in this movie, which does double duty as a one crazy day movie. The lead cast of Bill Murray (who also co-directed), Geena Davis and Randy Quaid are bank robbers trying to make a clean getaway from Manhattan to JFK airport and then on to Fiji. Unfortunately, everything from the Mafia to police chief Rotzinger (Jason Robards) to Quaid's unstable and none-too-bright Loomis complicate this plan.

I'm all for movies that write love letters to New York City like Woody Allen's or Martin Scorsese's, but it's a nice change of pace to see one with an attitude towards it resembling Homer Simpson's in "The City of New York Vs. Homer Simpson." From the commentary about gentrification ruining the city's identity to a recurring joke about the Mafia owning every business, I can understand why Bill Murray said "everyone will enjoy this movie...but New Yorkers will enjoy it especially because they know how bad their city really is." Like Scorsese's one crazy night movie After Hours, it also makes a point to show how weird the place is and in the funniest ways (I've got three words for you: shirtless bicycle jousting). Moments like these and the trio's constant and escalating haplessness are such a good fit for Murray's comedic talents that it's a shame he didn't direct more. He's not pulling all the weight, though: Quaid's the trio's perfect chaos agent while Davis's straight woman adds the right amount of sense and heart. The scenes where we're supposed to take Murray's character seriously, especially those involving his romance with Davis' character, are less successful, however. Also, the movie holds up for being over 30 years old, and as nice as it is to see a young Tony Shalhoub, his stereotypical non-English-speaking cab driver seems like he belongs in the typical Adam Sandler movie instead of this one. It's still a worthy addition to the one crazy night, err...one crazy day and night genre and it's a crime (no pun intended) that it slipped through the cracks. Oh, and this movie adds another reason why movies like this one are so much fun: there's the joy of spotting all the "that guys" and "that girls," which besides Shalhoub include Stanley Tucci, Kurtwood Smith and the late, great Phil Hartman.




Marnie (1964, Alfred Hitchcock)

I have to say this is probably one of my least favorite Hitchcock films I've seen thus far. The first minutes were promising (that opening shot was sooo classy) but then the plot began to unfold in the most tedious, unsatisfying and rather predictable way. There were moments in the film that I thought were downright badly executed, or just odd/lacking believability. There wasn't enough compelling mystery or suspense, and the overarching psychological subtext came off a bit contrived and annoying (didn't like this aspect of Spellbound either - or, rather, the execution of it).
I hated Marnie. As soon as Connery's character started comparing her to taming an animal, I was out. I found both lead characters deeply uninteresting and had like no investment in them at all.



Well, I may have mental problems.
Frankly, I'm getting up there, I may have had a stroke too.
I've talked a few times about having some mixed feelings about Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, so maybe that's what you're thinking of.



rbrayer's Avatar
Registered User
OK so maybe I've watched 3 movies since but special mention to this one - a strong contender for funniest film ever made - an absolute scream. A perfect comedy with insane lead chemistry, fantastic writing, and perfect direction. Lightning in a bottle. If you haven't seen it, you absolutely must. Like it made my top 10 favorites have to. 256/10.




Deepest Fear (2018)
aka Metus

A Mexican B-horror that definitely isn't unique. Its story follows the well-trod paths, it's technically shaky, and the acting is mediocre at best. Still, there's enough passion and despair in its 70 minutes to keep it above carbage.
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OK so maybe I've watched 3 movies since but special mention to this one - a strong contender for funniest film ever made - an absolute scream. A perfect comedy with insane lead chemistry, fantastic writing, and perfect direction. Lightning in a bottle. If you haven't seen it, you absolutely must. Like it made my top 10 favorites have to. 256/10.

Ever since watching the remake, I've been meaning to re-visit the original; thanks for reminding me





The American Friend, 1977

Sociopath Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper) is running an art forgery scam with a partner. When a terminally ill man named Jonathan (Bruno Ganz) snubs him at an auction, Ripley gets revenge by convincing the man his disease is worsening and manipulating him into becoming a hitman for some of his nastier associates.

I have read several of Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley books, though not the one on which this film is based. I had a slightly mixed reaction to this film, though more positive than negative.

I guess my only real complaint--though one that ran through the whole film--was the portrayal of Ripley. This is totally a case of comparing an interpretation to the original work, so fair play if you don't think that's valid. If the character had been called anything but Tom Ripley I might not have been bothered. But there is something a bit unhinged about Ripley in this film and how Hopper portrays him. Something that makes Ripley a fun antagonist is his lack of sentimentality and total self-interest, but also the fact that he will sometimes make totally impulsive decisions that he must then deal with. This Ripley felt more . . . . neurotic. And I guess the reason that it bothered me a bit is that in the original novel, Ripley's sexuality (he is either gay or bisexual) felt separate to an important degree. Highsmith was able to have a gay character who preys on men and women in a way that you usually only see male characters go after female characters. But in this film, his sexuality and his sociopathy feel more intertwined and I had mixed feelings about that. It's like his gay side is his "weaker" side and . . . eh.

What I did really love is that this is a very character-driven thriller, mainly focusing on Jonathan (and by extension his family, with whom we spend a lot of time) and using Ripley largely as a catalyst. Jonathan is despairing because he believes--thanks to Ripley fudging some medical results--that he will soon die. He is anxious about leaving his family behind. And yet, he is miserable (and maybe a bit exhilarated) with the violence he is asked to perpetrate. Ironically, the more he tries to help his family, the more he becomes alienated from them.

One of the best touches of the film is the way that Jonathan (and we as the audience) constantly return to the mundane everyday activities of his family. Jonathan returns from having murdered someone to watch his son playing in the bathtub. He is becoming someone different, and his family--even his small children--are on the periphery of it. His wife is very aware that something is amiss, and we can feel her frustration build as the film goes on.

The assassination sequences themselves are thrilling and suspenseful. One, in which Jonathan is to assassinate a man on an escalator, makes great use of the confined space and movement of the escalator. Another sequence, one that takes place on a train, is also well-staged, including layering in many character beats for both Jonathan and Ripley.

Despite having a few issues with the portrayal of Ripley's character--again, based on my experience with the novel and feeling that some of the themes and character traits were a bit of a misfire--I enjoyed this one and would recommend it.




RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON
(2021, Hall & López Estrada)



"Well, the world's broken. You can't trust anyone."
"Or maybe the world's broken because you don't trust anyone."

Raya and the Last Dragon comes at a time of resurgence for Disney films, and it does so by sticking to a few tropes that have been key to their films during the last decade or so; and that is the portrayal of strong female leads, the absence of a central romantic relationship while highlighting other type of relationships, and the lack of a proper antagonist by focusing more on gray moral areas. That has been the case with Frozen, Zootopia, Moana, among others.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot
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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?


Act of Violence (1948)
Frank (Van Heflin) has got a really good life. A really wonderful wife, Edith (Janet Leigh) and a baby boy. He's a war hero and a successful business man that everyone likes.
But, ya see, during the war, in a POW camp, Frank made a mistake. We all make mistakes, right? Well, it was a pretty hefty one and Joe, (Robert Ryan) is coming to kill him for it.

Surprisingly, this tense noir-thriller is sort of unknown. With a cast that, along with those mentioned, includes Mary Astor playing a drifter who finds Frank at his worst and tries, in vain, to help. Along with Phyllis Thaxter playing Joe's girlfriend, Ann who tries and tries to dissuade Joe from this hellbent vengeance.

Along with all the cinematic shadowing and twisting roads of a truly good noir, we also are treated with not only the tormented "prey" (Heflin), but also the tortured "hunter" (Ryan) as the chase draws to a close. Both men haunted by what happened and how this will have to end.
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What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue:
Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won't be troubling you much longer.



Act of Violence (1948)
Frank (Van Heflin) has got a really good life. A really wonderful wife, Edith (Janet Leigh) and a baby boy. He's a war hero and a successful business man that everyone likes.
But, ya see, during the war, in a POW camp, Frank made a mistake. We all make mistakes, right? Well, it was a pretty hefty one and Joe, (Robert Ryan) is coming to kill him for it.

Surprisingly, this tense noir-thriller is sort of unknown. With a cast that, along with those mentioned, includes Mary Astor playing a drifter who finds Frank at his worst and tries, in vain, to help. Along with Phyllis Thaxter playing Joe's girlfriend, Ann who tries and tries to dissuade Joe from this hellbent vengeance.

Along with all the cinematic shadowing and twisting roads of a truly good noir, we also are treated with not only the tormented "prey" (Heflin), but also the tortured "hunter" (Ryan) as the chase draws to a close. Both men haunted by what happened and how this will have to end.
Good review! I've seen that one twice it's a solid noir and like you said not well known. Van Heflin is pretty great in this and he's always good. I just seen him last night play a heavy and he was quite convincing in that role too.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Good review! I've seen that one twice it's a solid noir and like you said not well known. Van Heflin is pretty great in this and he's always good. I just seen him last night play a heavy and he was quite convincing in that role too.
I had a feeling this was something you've seen, or at least need to if you haven't.
I am a bit limited in my Heflin roles, though I've been pretty impressed by the ones I've seen; this one tying my favorite in 3:10 to Yuma.



I had a feeling this was something you've seen, or at least need to if you haven't.
I am a bit limited in my Heflin roles, though I've been pretty impressed by the ones I've seen; this one tying my favorite in 3:10 to Yuma.
He seems to turn up unexpected in the film's I'm watching He did make four other noirs. The film I seen him in last night was kinda of an odd one, I should make an effort and write a little something about it.




Tap Roots (George Marshall 1948)

I'm on a Susan Hayward kick and watching all of her filmography. I watched this one last night and had no idea what it was about until the credits rolled. It's a rather odd film as at first glance it seems like a poor cousin to 1939's Gone With the Wind. I mean we get Susan Hayward as the headstrong, firebrand daughter of a rich southern plantation owner. We get the big plantation run by her father, Ward Bond...and there's a surly, dangerous newspaper man played with passion by Van Heflin.

So this is one part melodrama with two suitors vying for the lovely Susan Haywards attention...But then we get the story of Ward Bond the powerful plantation owner who decides to declare his property and the entire valley it lays in, as Free Land...not aligned with the south or the north. He even gets up a militia and arms them. There's quite a battle going on towards the end of the movie. There's cypress trees in the swamps and canons and gun fights, it looked good AND it seemed all so familiar.

After I was done watching the film I remembered Free State of Jones (2016) which was based on a true historical event during the civil war..and so was Tap Roots, in fact it's the same story.

+





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Took your recommendation and watched this last night. Survival films are not at the top of my watch list, but this one was exceptionally well done. Mads Mikkelsen is the only star in the picture, since the female character (Maria Smaradottir) never utters a word, and spends most of her screen time unconscious.

We’re treated to an uncommon beginning as we realize that Mikkelsen has survived his small plane crash in the arctic, and is digging a help sign in the snowy turf. He’s faced with a dilemma; he can either stay where he is, living in the plane wreck with food and water available, or try a near impossible trek to civilization. The rescue helicopter’s crash, leaving Maria alive, eventually makes up his mind for him.

Mikkelsen provides a tour de force performance, representing a gamut of human emotions without speech. Even absent the ambient sounds this would make an excellent silent film. The movie keeps the viewer on edge with the underlying feeling that they may be doomed. It must have been a difficult production with the entire picture shot in an arctic deep freeze. The run time is perfect at 98 minutes.

I was surprised to learn that this was both the director’s (Joe Penna) and co-writer’s (Ryan Morrison) first feature film, having done only a few shorts before this. The film had the feel of a seasoned director at the helm. It’s safe to say that Penna will have gotten plenty of offers following this fine film. It’s got an 8/10 from me.
I'm really glad you liked it. Your take is pretty much my own reaction to it.



I hated Marnie. As soon as Connery's character started comparing her to taming an animal, I was out. I found both lead characters deeply uninteresting and had like no investment in them at all.
Yes, and I kind of get why people refer to this film as Hitchcock at his most misogynistic. I mean, sure, Marnie is a deeply flawed character but at least that's partly explained by her childhood trauma that scars her for life, but the way Hitchcock presents Mark at the end as some sort of virtuous hero who just wants to "help", after him being also an obsessive manipulative control freak and woman abuser for two hours, rubbed me the wrong way. I get it, he probably wanted this film to be a complex psychological study with complex characters and stuff (and it does have some of that) but overall it simply misfires on a number of levels.